Throughout the regular season you probably would’ve been called crazy by numerous people if you suggested the Islanders should make a coaching change. After all, the team did have their most points in a season this year since the 83/84 season. However, the team had a poor second half and while they played Washington tough for most of their series, their effort in game 7 was abysmal to say the least. So this begs the question, will Jack Capuano and his assistants be back next season?
This season was Capuanos 4th full season as the coach of the Islanders and 5th overall. He took over for Scott Gordon during the 2010/2011 season after Gordon was relieved of his duties. In that time Capuano has taken a fair share of criticism from fans even though at times it was probably undeserved because he wasn’t given the best team in the world by the GM and owner. Anyway, with the teams play this year and him starting to show a pulse behind the bench, it started to win some fans over. A lot of people assumed that the change in Capuano was brought on by the impending move to Brooklyn and knowing that there are minority owners in place now as well so the comfortable feeling some may have had previously is gone now. However, even with the great regular season, when you factor in the sub par second half and the horrendous effort in game 7 Capuanos future with the Islanders is definitely murky, in my eyes at least.
The Islanders hired Cronin back in June as an assistant coach whose main responsibility was the penalty kill. Cronin took the spot of Brent Thompson who returned to Bridgeport to coach the Sound Tigers after spending two seasons as an assistant coach for the Islanders. The hiring of Cronin was met with criticism right away from a lot of people, myself included. The main two points of the Cronin hire that people didn’t like was that he had history with the Islanders already and that the Leafs penalty kill last season wasn’t really much better then the Islanders so it didn’t make sense. Throughout most of the season those people were proven right as the penalty kill was consistently at the bottom of the league. The struggles of penalty kill caused the screams against Cronin to grow louder and louder as the season wore on. However, as the season drew to a close and into the playoffs the penalty kill did improve a lot from where it had been. However, given the year-long struggles of the kill I would be surprised if Cronin is behind the bench in Barclays Center next season.
I touched on this in one of my articles yesterday, however I will go into more detail on it now. Weight isn’t your traditional assistant coach as he also holds the role of assistant GM as well. Since retiring from the NHL Weight has held the dual role much to the chagrin of some fans. Weights main responsibility as assistant is to be in charge of the power play. Given the personnel he has had in his tenure the power play hasn’t been that bad. However, this season, the tremendous inconsistencies the power play suffered through is a big red x on Weights record. None more so than the struggles in the playoffs when the power play was a staggering 0-14. Only one team in NHL history has won a 7 games series when not converting on a single power play. Due to the struggles of the power play in the playoffs alone Weight should be reassigned off the bench and relegated to the front office role. In his time here he has shown to be a great ambassador for the team and I believe he could really excel in a front office role much like his friend and former teammate Bill Guerin is doing with the Penguins.
What I think Should Happen
I only covered the three coaches that are behind the bench but the Islanders have other assistant coaches that don’t go behind the bench during the game. With that I think the Islanders need to clean house this off-season and bring in a new head coach as the team prepares for its first season in Barclays Center. While some big name coaches look to be available, they won’t come cheap so this will be a test for the new ownership structure if they will be willing to pay a proven coach that will generate buzz or will continue to go down the unproven route looking to strike gold.